Legendary Strength Podcast Episode 18 - Travis Stoetzei

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For this episode of Legendary Strength podcast, Logan Christopher interviewed Travis Stoetzei - a Crossfit competitor and an incredibly strong guy. Among other things, you can expect to hear more on these: Ways to train Marines, The importance of early start, Olympic Lifts - The best strength exercises, How to improve your recovery And much, much more!


  • 1. Legendary Strength Podcast Episode 18Travis Stoetzel Get this podcast on iTunes at: http://legendarystrength.com/go/podcastLogan: Welcome everyone to the Legendary Strength podcast. Today, I have a special interview for youlined up. I have my new friend, my new partner in strength training, Travis Stoetzel, on the line. Thanksfor joining us, Travis.Travis: Hey! Thanks for having me, Logan. Like I was telling you before, I really enjoy doing theseinterviews and happy to be on your call here, man.Logan: Yeah, our mutual friend, Tyler, introduced us and once I saw some of the things you could do, Iwas like youd be a good guy to have on here so I want to get into some of your training informationtoday.Travis: Definitely, man.Logan: So for people not familiar and actually I dont know that much of your back story myself, couldyou go into a little bit of how you got into training and all that stuff, without taking up the entire 30-minute call?Travis: Sure, Ill do like the five-minute version. Basically just looking back at the way I got started, I gotstarted at a real early age. My dad got me into a lot of bodyweight training. He got me into wrestlingback when I was in fourth grade. I cant recall how old I was but he had me doing isometrics, a lot of Copyright 2013 LegendaryStrength.com All Rights Reserved

2. calisthenics, pushups, pull ups, sit ups, all that different stuff, and it just kind of grew on me. I enjoyedtraining from a young age.Then he got me involved in weight lifting when I got in seventh grade. I started getting serious with thatand then it just came along with playing sports in high school. I played football, wrestled, like I said, andbaseball. Then on into college, I played baseball and football. When I graduated college, I played a fewyears of professional indoors football and tried out for some different NFL teams and things like that. SoI stayed heavily involved with training.After I was done, giving my all to try to play in the professional ranks, I decided to switch it around andstep on the other side of the line and be the guy preparing people to take it to the next level, whetherthat be training for sports or just getting in better shape for fitness, for life, so I started training. I trainedat a big Globo Gym and I was there for about close to three years when I finally got out of there.Me and my best friend, Joe, we finally decided to leave the gym and started my own gym, The ForgedAthlete. Ive been in there for three years now and its still growing and getting stronger every day.Thats kind of where I am today. I own my own gym and we do all kinds of crazy stuff like train athletes.I have a special deal with the military where I train marines. I get new enlisted marines ready to go foractual boot camp. So they come in and train in my gym, just different people like that, people that areserious about training. They want to train and just take their step to a new level and they love it. Thatskind of where I am now with my training, man.Logan: Okay, awesome. I got a few questions off of that. It sounds like youve been an athlete yourentire life but back when you got started, your dad getting you started with that, would you say thatreally built the foundation for really having that strength and fitness throughout your life?Travis: Definitely. Its hard for me to relate with people when they cant do one single pushup. This issomething that just kind of pisses me off, when these Marines come in, we have these Marines like 17and 18-year old kids, and they cant even do a set of five pushups with good form or they cant even doone single pull up. It just blows my mind because I was doing pull ups at a young age, fourth grade, justcranking out pull ups. Its hard for me to just kind of relate with that.Just going back to that, it would just instill in me, real young, just to have that basic strength. You shouldbe able to do pushups. You should be able to do pull ups. It serves as the basis to everything else thatyou do, strength-wise. Im sure you know that as well as I do. If you cant do pushups, squats, pull ups,rows, different variations of body weight movements, youre just not going to be good to go lifting abarbell, lifting dumbbells, or anything like that. I mean bodyweight strength is just very, very important.Logan: Yeah, and I completely agree with you. I came from the flipside of that. There was a point I wasreal weak growing up when my brother tells meI dont remember this myselfhe just started trainingme because he got into bodybuilding and all that. Thats what he was exposed to back then. But therewas a point when I couldnt do a pushup and I actually remember in eighth grade not being able to do aCopyright 2013 LegendaryStrength.com All Rights Reserved 3. pull up so I know that it can suck to be in that place. But wherever you start, you can build from there.Im very interested, what sort of program do you put these Marines through?Travis: Well, its kind of controlled chaos, so to speak. When they first started coming to us, they didnthave any sort of program. Their recruiting officers were just kind of beating the crap out of them, so tospeak, and there was just no rhyme or reason for what theyre doing. They were just makingLogan: Aint that how the military goes with their training?Travis: Yeah. So when I approach it, its still a progressive sort of manner. Ive got like 40 to 50 guys atone time so a lot of the stuff that I do is based around intervals. Well do a lot of bodyweight stuff. Wellwork some sandbags.As far as resistance goes, well just do a lot of partner training. So I might have a guy carrying a guy onhis back. Once they get up to a certain level, they can start doing squats with their partner, lunges, stufflike that, but with that many peopleIm training 40 to 50 guys at one timeI set everything out atinterval, like I was saying.For example, just to give you a kind of a look at like a three-week program I might put them through,Week 1, we might be doing intervals, 30 seconds of work with 15 to maybe even 30 seconds of rest.Then well put them through a bunch of different variations of movements and stuff like that and thenwell come back Week number 2 and Ill increase that to 45 seconds of work and decrease the rest,maybe keep the rest at 30 seconds or maybe decrease it to 15 seconds. Then third or fourth week, kindof depending on how guys are progressing, we might go up to a minute a round, so 60 seconds of workwith very, very short rest periods.We get it pretty intense in there but one of the main things is Im always focusing on with those guys isgood technique because if theyre training with the best technique they can, its going to obviously makethe exercise harder when youre using the correct technique and you know youre not as strong as youcan be, whereas a lot of those military guys, when theyre doing exercises, theyre just trying to barrelthrough it so their technique and their form is just god awful. So thats one of the main focuses I reallykey in on with those guys. I would much rather have them do five solid pushups than like 50 half reppushups thats not going to get them any better. So form and technique, we really focus in on that.Its still really intense in there and thats kind of the way I approach it with the different intervals. Wemight do timed reps, like amp reps. Thats like okay, youve got two minutes to bang out as manybodyweight squats or pushups or pull ups, different things like that. Thats kind of how I approach that.Logan: Cool. Yeah. When youve got large groups of people, just keeping everything on the time-basedcircuit interval status seems to work best. Okay, lets switch gears a little bit. Can you tell us about yourcurrent training, what your goals happen to be, and what youre working on? Copyright 2013 LegendaryStrength.com All Rights Reserved 4. Travis: Yeah. For me, Ive been getting involved with just competing in CrossFit in the last couple ofyears. Thats really evolved my training. Looking back a couple years ago, I was just really into thehardcore, garage warrior-type training. I actually went away from training with the barbell for a while. Iwas just doing a lot of kettlebell training, bodyweight training, and then doing stuff with the sandbags. Imean I got strong as hell. I was in insane shape.Well, I was asked to do the CrossFit Open a couple of years ago and I was like Ah! This stuff will be easy.Ill just come in and dominate this stuff, and it just opened my eyes to some different weaknesses that Ihad. A lot of it had to do with just trying rep Olympic weightlifting and stuff like that. So a couple yearsback, I wanted to get serious with competing at CrossFit because its something just to keep me going.Since growing up, always being involved in a competitive sport, Ive had kind of a lapse of time therewhere I wasnt involved in any type of competition or anything like that. I did a bodybuilding show and Idid well in my show but it wasnt the type of training that I wanted to do. I just felt like my athleticismand that part of me was kind of going away so I turned back to the performance training.Like I said my, training has really evolved in time. Im doing a lot of stuff just to prepare myself for theCrossFit Open and the Regionals coming up. Like I said, in the last two years I competed Ive gottenreally close to making it to the actual CrossFit games. The way it works, if people arent familiar, just in anutshell is that you have to do the Open first. Then theres 17 different regions around the country andeach region will take the top 60 guys. Then youve got to place in the top three at your region and in thetop three going to the CrossFit games. Thats the stuff that you see on ESPN and stuff like that. Its supercompetitive.What Ive been doing is kind of like I mentioned earlier, controlled chaos so to speak. With CrossFityoure kind of training for the unknown. Its like, what are they going to make you do for this nextworkout? A lot of times, I just think theyre seeing how close they can get you to death. Youve got tohave a high level of conditioning, a high level of strength, and youve got to be very efficient in themovements.So one of my main focuses has just been to hone in on my Olympic lifting because I feel the better I canbecome as a lifter, with the snatch, the clean and jerk, and things like that, thats going to cross over toeverything else that I do like back squats, front squats, deadlifts, all that stuff. Since Ive done that, sinceIve focused more in on my Olympic lifting, all my other lifts have improved a ton without putting toomuch focus in on that.Programming-wise, I zero in on a main move three different days a week so Ive still got heavy squats inthere, heavy overhead pressing, and then deadlifting. For deadlifting, Id focus on speed so Im doing alot of band pulls, deadlifts with chains, things like that. Then Ill mix in Olympic lifting pretty much everyday, four times a week at least, and different variations of the clean and jerks or snatching, assistancework, and stuff like that. Copyright 2013 LegendaryStrength.com All Rights Reserved 5. As far as my conditioning goes, thats when I have fun, so to speak. Thats where I mix in the kettlebells,the bodyweight work, and just kind of the crazy, insane workout type stuff like Thursday throwdownsand things like that that I do weekly on my blog. Thats where the conditioning aspect comes in. Thatskind of how my training has evolve over time.Logan: Okay, cool. With the Olympic lifts, thats something I havent spent a lot of time on. I figure atsome point in the future but its such a technical thing. Like you were saying, youre training at fourtimes a week, really groove in that technique and to do it. Could you go into a little more detail on that?How heavy are you going? What sort of work are you doing, that sort of thing?Travis: Yeah, definitely. Well, my high school as far as Olympic lifting goes, I was lucky where myfootball coach in high school was relatively good with the Olympic lifts. We really did have manyprogressions with him. He just had us power clean, clean and jerk, and stuff like that. Not too muchdetail so I built up a lot of bad habits but I still generally knew how to do the Olympic lifts growing up. AsIve been doing them, I just had to break free of a lot of bad habits.Typically if youre looking at my schedule, Mondays Im always starting out with the snatch and Imusually doing a full snatch with that. Ill try to get as heavy as I can every Monday, since Im fresh onMonday. I give myself about 15 to 20 minutes and Ill hit singles, Ill hit singles, and Ill hit singles. Ill justtry to build up to the heaviest weight I possibly can for snatches to kind of set up my week. Ill comeback in and Ill do some power clean and jerks.Then I usually take Wednesday off as far as Olympic lifting goes. Thursdays, I take off totally. Fridays, Icome back and I do stuff from the hang position so Ill do hang snatches or hanging cleans, or Ill do stufffrom blocks so Ill do high hang snatch or high hang clean from the blocks. Thats really helped out a ton.Growing up, I never did any work from the blocks. For anybody listening to this call, I would definitelylearn how to do snatches and cleans from the block, above your knees. Really thats where the key is,getting that barbell to your hips.When I was younger, I was always muscling the weight up. That was one of the biggest issues with mewith Olympic lifting. I was trying to muscle the weight with my upper body. The Olympic lifts are justtotal hips. Its about bar positioning so that the work from the blocks has really helped me out a ton.Typically, Saturdays Ill come back in and Ill kind of test myself out. It just kind of depends. Ill usuallybuild up to a heavy one rep clean and jerk on Saturdays and then Ill just kind of blend in snatch workwithin my workout for that stuff. Thats basically what a typical week looks like for me.Logan: Okay. So just to clarify, youre doing CrossFit and I guess the main thing that people knowCrossFit is like the workout of the day and youre not really doing that. You have programming to workon your weaknesses and within your conditioning, you really mix it up within that but for the most part,like the strength and skill work, thats fairly well laid out?Copyright 2013 LegendaryStrength.com All Rights Reserved 6. Travis: Yeah. Basically, what Im doing for myself that Ive been seeing the most progress with, like Imentioned, Ive been doing CrossFit for the last couple of years, kind of my own method so to speakinstead of doing the randomized workout of the day. Because I tried doing that for a couple of monthsand really I just dropped off across the board. My strength went down.You know as well as I do you have to have some sort of structure when in order to gain strength. Youhave to have some sort of progressive system so typically what I do are six week blocks where Imfocusing in on differen...